It’s strawberry season—and they are the first in a long line of berries and tree fruits that ripen over the next few months in the Okanagan’s fields, orchards and vineyards.
Since strawberries are a highly perishable crop grown in only a short season here, strawberry lovers have to seize the opportunity now to enjoy them picked fresh—ripened on the vine.
Unlike pears, which must be picked prior to reaching maturity, strawberries are at their peak of flavour and sweetness when fully ripened on the plant.
This week’s wet weather is not the best for their quality, but the cooler weather the past few weeks has resulted in an excellent crop this year, notes Gabe Coupal of Benvoulin Road Strawberries.
He’s been growing them at that location since 1987 and after 25 years there, many residents already know where to go for u-pick berries.
However, there are a number of commercial growers now in the Central Okanagan, although no processing plants such as there are in the Fraser Valley.
Rather than ever-bearing or day-neutral strawberries, Coupal grows the Shuksan variety which is known for its flavour and sweetness, but which has a short season. He estimates there’ll be berries ripening for the next couple of weeks.
However, they won’t be open for picking when it’s raining, so people are advised to call ahead.
Some local growers do not offer the option of u-pick, but you can buy fresh-picked containers of the berries from them—without having to do any stooping or bending.
In the Okanagan, strawberry harvest is followed by raspberries, cherries, apricots, peaches, plums, nectarines, pears, apples and table grapes.
Look for local growers in the classified pages of the Capital News and at the Kelowna and District Farmers and Crafters Market.